Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Day at the Beach

Today I decided to visit the beach in Rehoboth Beach. I live so close but rarely go to the beach. One of the reasons is that I am susceptible to a precancerous skin condition so I don't lie on the beach anymore seeking that sexy, healthy tan. But I do love breathing in the sea air and walking the boardwalk on a beautiful summer day like today.

On my way in I took along some of my neighbor's backyard vegetable bounty to deliver to a friend who has a place in Rehoboth Beach. This is a friend that I had dinner with last night. When I arrived, I noticed that he was edgy. Something was on his mind. It didn't take too long to find out when I asked to take a picture of him and his friend. He was angry and demanded "Why do you have a blog? Why do you do it?" I could see he was very agitated. What was his problem? I soon found out. His picture was on my blog. Now why is this a problem? He said he thought my blog was only read by a few of our friends, he didn't know the world had access to reading my blog. My friend isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. I explained to him that anyone could read the blog. Then he demanded again "Why do you write it?!" This took me back a bit but I responded that I write about my life. He quickly got to his source of agitation; he didn't want me putting his picture on my blog. His friend also stated the same request. I told them that wasn't a problem. I would not put pictures of them on any of my future blog postings.

I left this rather uncomfortable encounter with my friend to take a walk on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach. Today was a perfect summer day for the beach. A gentle breeze flowed in from the ocean. Hundreds of colorful umbrellas dotted the beach. The sounds of the sea gulls blended in with the gentle rush of the waves and the distant voices of the families sunning themselves on the beach completed the picture of summertime fun at the beach. While walking I found that I was still bothered by my friend's request. Why would it bother them that their pictures appeared on my blog? Then it hit me. It bothered them for the same reason as it bothers many of the gay men and women who travel from Washington D. C. to Rehoboth Beach and have their pictures appear on the Internet website of the local gay publication "Letters." They don't want their pictures on the website for the world to see. Someone might think they're gay. They might have to come out of the closet. As side note, I think it's ironic that many of the same people who don't want the world to know their gay are usually the gayest acting and their family, friends and co-workers already know they're gay. No one would be surprised by the revelation that they are gay. It is old news.

Yes friends, that's probably why my friends don't want their picture on my blog. I identify myself as gay and they don't want that association. Personally I am against outing anybody; gay, straight or bisexual. However, those gays who continue to stay in the closet are the gays who permit the oppression of gay men and women to continue. That's why I decided to come out in 1963, way before it was fashionable to come out. I've paid a heavy price for coming out. In fact, just tonight my partner told me a friend of his will not continue his close friendship with him as long as he "continues to live with the devil." That would be me. I am the "devil" he refers to. Why? Because I do not apologize for being gay and I am not ashamed of being gay. I never have been ashamed of being gay, unlike many of my gay friends many of whom are still in the closet. The simple fact is they don't have the moral courage to come out and be who they are. They would rather have their oppressors define them. That's more convenient for them. They are embarrassed and ashamed of being gay.

I'm not one of those gays who are in your face with "I'm queer, I'm here, get used to it." But, by the same token I don't hide my sexual identity. either. I don't make excuses, I don't substitute she for he when talking about events in my life. In a way I feel sorry for my friends who have permitted their oppressors to define their lives. Ironically, some of my friends who are deepest in the closet are the most sexually active even in their advanced years. The word that comes to mind is hypocrite. I think it is ironic on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that was the beginning to tossing the yoke of oppression off of gays, there are still self-hating gays who permit that yoke to stay on their necks.

This week we had one of the prominent family values politicians, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina come out and admit that he couldn't keep his pants zipper up. Sanford, one of the first and most vocal critics of former President Bill Clinton's morality, fessed up to being unfaithful to his wife and children by his affair with an Argentine woman named "Maria." The word that comes to mind is hypocrite. Sanford is just one of many politicians, of both parties, who have been exposed as hypocrites. Sanford is a straight political hypocrite. Then there are gay hypocrites. They are comfortable in the closet and don't want to be exposed to the sunlight of honesty because they don't have the courage to face that life. Harsh words from me but that is the way I see it. Unfortunately I know too many of these people. Most of them are very nice, respectable people but they are scared to death of the truth. They will go to their grave never saying the words "I am gay" to a straight person. Those words may cross their lips while on the prowl for a sexual conquest but never in another context. These are the type of people who would permit a "fag" joke to go unchallenged in their presence. Early in my life I used to let the "fag" jokes go unchallenged until one day I had enough and after the joke was told I said "I'm gay and I don't see the humor in your offensive joke." I still remember the look on that individual's face when he heard what I said. He literally was speechless. As the Master Card commercial says, "Priceless."

I may be many things but one thing I am not is a hypocrite. I'll honor my friend's request and not put their pictures in any of my future blog postings. But one thing I want to let those friends know is that my blog postings are about my life. That is my honesty. If they are ashamed of their association with me because I have the word "gay" in my personal description on my blog, well then maybe they should stop being hypocrites and reevaluate their friendship with me.


Mike, Studio city said...

My LOVER/HUSBAND and I love your blog. It's honest and always interesting. You can post our picture on your blog anyway time you feel like it. Very out, and very proud, Mike and Glenn

Ron Tipton said...

Thank you Mike for your supportive comment. My goal is to always keep my blog honest and, hopefully, interesting. Otherwise I wouldn't do it. I post about my life.

the cajun said...

Many of these people are from the old school of leading two separate lives and wouldn't know how to live only one honestly.

Too many are filled with fear of rejection and hatred for not being 'normal' that they have no other way to function but to hide.

Sad, really.

Ron Tipton said...

Well said. You have put into a few concise words exactly what I was trying to say in my blog posting. Thank you.

While many of these gay men are fine and decent people they are incapable of coming out and living an honest and open life. They have grown so used to what they perceive as the comfort and security of their closeted lives that they will go to their graves keeping their true identity from their family, friends and co-workers.

It is a shame that they will never know the exhilaration of freedom that living an honest and open life would bring to them. You are right, it is sad. However, it is their choice. I chose not to participate in perpetuating their lie. If that interferes with our friendship, then so be it.